Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Joy of Purging

Yesterday I performed what, sadly, has become a ritual for me since having children: the organizing and purging of toys.

How is it that you have a baby, and within a few months their toys seem to multiply faster than rabbits? And not just in their sweet little nursery, this accumulation cascades into every room in your home! I find toys under the bed in my room, we keep toy boxes in the living room- since that is where the girls usually play, and downstairs in the family room there is yet another shelf containing baskets with- gag- more toys!

I should also mention that I already go to the trouble of not keeping all my children's toys out at once. You may have read that kids are more apt to play with their toys when there is less available to them. Mandi of Family Bliss says, "Given too many choices, kids actually play less with their toys. " Rotating toys keeps them interesting to your children, increases their creativity, and keeps your home neater.

Every three to four months, it seems I grow weary of stepping on plastic pieces as I make way through what is secretly intended by my children to be a mommy obstacle course. I gather a garbage bag, a storage tub with toys that have already been put away on the last round of organizing, and a box in which to put toys we can donate.

All toys from a fast food kids' meal go in the trash. Toys that the kids still enjoy, but seem to have grown tired of go in storage for a few months, till the next round. And toys they've outgrown, or never liked to begin with, go to Once Upon a Child or the Goodwill. (And since I'm addressing this issue, let me give a shout out to Once Upon a Child. If you have one near you, it's a great place to take your children's clothes, toys, and equipment that are still in good shape. They'll go through what you bring them, take what they feel they can sell, and give you a portion of what they'll make from it. Granted, it's not what you could make selling it yourself, but you do save yourself the hassle and time of selling it yourself.)

The whole process took me a little over an hour. We ended up with a box of toys to get rid of, half a garbage bag full of junk to toss, and fresh toys out which the girls haven't seen since Christmas. They feel like Mom went on a shopping spree for them, and all I did was some creative switcheroo!

I've heard of many families who do something like this by organizing their toys into several groups- making sure to include a variety of types of toys in each group, putting these groups into storage bins, and switching bins every one to two weeks. This is a great option, but for me, too much work.

And let me tell you- there is a sense of satisfaction and joy that comes from a good purging of accumulated "stuff". Henri Frederic Amiel said, "Conquering any difficulty always gives one a secret joy, for it means pushing back a boundary-line and adding to one's liberty."

Let freedom ring!

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